Darren Nance v. Joseph Santiago, et al


NOT PRECEDENTIAL OPINION Coram: AMBRO, KRAUSE, Circuit Judges and *CONTI, Chief Distrit Judge. Total Pages: 5. Judge: AMBRO Authoring. *Honorable Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti, District Court Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania, sitting by designation.

Download PDF
Case: 16-4450 Document: 003112764109 Page: 1 Date Filed: 10/27/2017 NOT PRECEDENTIAL UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT ________________ No. 16-4450 ________________ DARREN M. NANCE, Appellant v. CITY OF NEWARK; NEWARK POLICE DEPARTMENT; THE MAYOR, SHARPE JAMES; JOSEPH J. SANTIAGO; THOMAS C. O’REILLY; ROBERT K. RANKIN, JR.; MITCHELL MCQUIRE; MICHAEL O’CONNOR; JAMES DAVID O’CONNOR; WILLIE E. UNDERWOOD; IRVING B. GULLER; JOSE OMAR COLON; CHADRAKANT PATEL; JAMES E. TUNIS; ISABELLA CASTELLANOS; VINCENT BONGERMINO; JOHN DOES (1-10); RICHARD PARABOSCHI; NICHOLAS MARESCA; ANTHONY CAMPOS; JOHN ZAKOWSKI ________________ Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. Civil Action No. 2-97-cv-06184) District Judge: Honorable Jose L. Linares Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) September 27, 2017 Before: AMBRO, KRAUSE, Circuit Judges, and CONTI, Chief District Judge (Opinion filed: October 27, 2017)  Honorable Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti, District Court Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania, sitting by designation. Case: 16-4450 Document: 003112764109 Page: 2 Date Filed: 10/27/2017 OPINION* ________________ AMBRO, Circuit Judge The City of Newark, New Jersey, terminated Darren Nance as a police officer in September 1996. He sued Newark for wrongful termination, and in June 2010 a jury returned a verdict in his favor. It awarded Nance $350,000 in compensatory damages (including lost wages) and $250,000 in punitive damages. Fast forward to early 2015 when Nance submitted correspondence to the District Court from New Jersey’s Department of Treasury stating the jury award must indicate the period involved, the amount, and the total value of mitigated damages in order to collect his pension and receive years-of-service credit for the period between his termination and the jury award. It did not contain this information, and hence Nance could not have his pension reinstated with back pay and service credit. The District Court entered an Order stating the time applicable to the award and that the amount of mitigated wages was $350,000. Nance submitted to the Court additional correspondence from the State of New Jersey stating the correct amount of mitigated wages was $980,942.97. In response, the Court issued an Amended Order reflecting that amount. Nance followed up by seeking an order to show cause to enforce Newark’s compliance with the Amended Order. The District Court, however, ruled that Newark * This disposition is not an opinion of the full Court and pursuant to I.O.P. 5.7 does not constitute binding precedent. 2 Case: 16-4450 Document: 003112764109 Page: 3 Date Filed: 10/27/2017 complied with the Order and denied a show cause order. Nance refused to back down and made another filing claiming he is owed mitigated wages of $980,942.97 (referred to in the Amended Order as “back pay”) and asserting Newark should be held in civil contempt and sanctioned for its failure to pay. The Court denied relief, ruling that Nance sought moneys not contemplated by the jury award and the Amended Order in no way increased Nance’s damages by that amount. Nance appeals this denial and our review is for an abuse of discretion. HarleyDavidson, Inc. v. Morris, 19 F.3d 142, 145 (3d Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted). “The district court may be reversed only where the denial is based on an error of law or a finding of fact that is clearly erroneous.” Id. (internal citation omitted). A decision is clearly erroneous if “the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948). Nance makes three arguments to us. The first concerns the District Court’s denial of his motion for order to show cause and motion for judgment. He contends Newark made statements at oral argument before the Court that erroneously led it to believe all or a portion of the jury verdict was wages and the Court lacked jurisdiction over the enforcement proceeding. Appellant’s Br. at 14. The District Court did not err; its holding that the jury award included lost wages is plainly based on the Jury Verdict Sheet, which specifically instructed the jury to calculate compensatory damages and include lost wages. Additionally, nowhere in the record does the Court state it did not have jurisdiction over enforcement of its orders. 3 Case: 16-4450 Document: 003112764109 Page: 4 Date Filed: 10/27/2017 Second, Nance claims that under N.J.A.C. § 17:1-2.18 the District Court erred in holding the $980,942.97 mitigated wages amount was for the purpose of pension reporting and not an increase in damages. Once again, the Court did not err. The New Jersey statute Nance cites requires an award or settlement of full back pay be made before any obligation to pay it is triggered. See N.J.A.C. § 17:1-2.18(a). He did not receive a jury award of full back pay. He received compensatory damages in the amount of $350,000, whereas the total back pay amount put forward by Nance’s expert was approximately $700,000. Nance v. City of Newark, No. 2:97-cv-06184, 2014 WL 346553, at *3 (D.N.J. Jan. 30, 2014). Additionally, the Court explained the Amended Order was issued at Nance’s request solely based on his representations that it was necessary and required by the State of New Jersey to process his pension benefits. In no event was it an increase in damages.1 Indeed, a letter from Nance’s counsel’s in 2015 to the Court makes plain Nance requested the mitigated wages amount be reflected in an order only for pension benefit purposes. To grant that request did not increase the damages in his award. Nance’s final argument is that the District Court erred in denying him nonpensionable wage items because these items are contractually linked to actual pensionable wages to which Nance is entitled. We need not reach this argument because 1 Nance also claims the Amended Order granted him equitable relief requiring Newark to give him pensionable service credit, fund his pension, and provide him medical benefits. However, the Court did not grant Nance equitable relief in its Amended Order; rather, its purpose was only to provide the State of New Jersey the information it needed to process Nance’s pension benefits. 4 Case: 16-4450 Document: 003112764109 Page: 5 Date Filed: 10/27/2017 the jury did not award Nance actual wages—it awarded him damages that included lost wages. We thus affirm. 5

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?